The United States Premier Hockey League is proud to announce that the National Collegiate Development Conference will welcome the WBS Knights to the USPHL’s Tier-II Tuition-Free Conference for the 2022-23 season and beyond.
In 2021, the NCDC led all North American Tier II leagues with players listed on the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings and saw three players drafted from the league. The NCDC capitalized on its location in the Northeast and the teams' relationships with NCAA programs to become a Tier II powerhouse in North America for years to come.
The Knights will join the South Division in 2022-23. WBS’ home rink, the Revolution Ice Centre in Pittston, Pa., is shared with the NCAA team from King’s College and also played host to the NCDC Championship Series in 2021. The WBS Knights NCDC will also use Binghamton, N.Y. as a secondary game location. The Knights have teams currently playing in the USPHL at the Premier and Elite levels. As of Jan. 20, the Knights Premier team was first in points and winning percentage, and the Elite team was in the top three in both categories.
“This is what we set out to do, to go Tier-II in Year 2 of being in the USPHL,” said WBS Knights USPHL Vice President of Operations Ray Welsh. “When we started the Knights junior program back up, we recruited young players so we can bring some of these current players up to the NCDC with us as they progress. We will continue to bring players in at the younger age group, and now with our NCDC team, we will accomplish our goal of moving them to Tier I junior and NCAA Division I and Division III hockey teams to further their playing careers.”
“The WBS Knights USPHL have proven to be one of the top performing and most professionally run organizations in the USPHL, and we are proud to add them to the NCDC for 2022-23,” said USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow. “They have shown, from their on-ice success with both of their teams this year to hosting a spectacular NCDC Championship event last year, that they are ready to become a valuable addition to our top level of junior hockey.”
The WBS Knights are no strangers to high level hockey. The Knights have established themselves as one of the premier youth hockey programs in the country. The club has won multiple titles and appeared at multiple National Championships, winning a national title in 2012.
In 2021, Welsh met with his current business partner in order to procure game ice when Welsh’s former team was unable to play in its home state due to COVID-19 restrictions. Both shared the vision of having a Tier II “Cradle To College” organization at the fantastic and welcoming venue that is the Revolution Ice Centre. From there, the Knights USPHL organization (bearing a familiar name in junior hockey) was newly born and the two men’s shared vision is coming to fruition here in 2022.
“We started the WBS Knights USPHL a year ago,” said Welsh, adding there is no one involved with the organization from any prior Knights teams that have operated out of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. “We have tried very hard to ensure that our players are taken care of, with dorm facilities to house the players including full-time chefs, a common area game room to encourage team bonding for all levels, a custom team coach bus and participation in local non-profit organizations. Additionally, our facility is state of the art and newly redone including the addition of an off-ice training facility, turf field, fitness / weight training facility, RapidShot, RapidHands and a skating treadmill.”
The venue was in the junior hockey spotlight over the final weekend of March 2021 in welcoming four NCDC Semifinalists in for the “final four” format of last year’s Championship Series, won by the Jersey Hitmen.
Moving forward, Welsh said he’ll be hitting the road a lot in upcoming months, scouting everything from high school games to 18U AAA tournaments to find the right players for Year 1 of the WBS Knights USPHL NCDC team.
“We want to look for those diamonds in the rough, though we will also be tendering several of our current Premier players. Throughout the season, we want to make sure our organization is fully integrated, moving players from Elite to Premier and Premier to NCDC,” said Welsh. “At all levels we will continue to treat the players with a first class experience, and match that with competitiveness on the ice and provide a path for their future success.”